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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Volumetric associations between uncinate fasciculus, amygdala, and trait anxiety

Volker Baur1*, Jürgen Hänggi1 and Lutz Jäncke123

Author affiliations

1 Division Neuropsychology, Institute of Psychology, University of Zurich, Switzerland

2 Center for Integrative Human Physiology, University of Zurich, Switzerland

3 International Normal Aging and Plasticity Imaging Center (INAPIC), University of Zurich, Switzerland

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Citation and License

BMC Neuroscience 2012, 13:4  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-13-4

Published: 4 January 2012

Abstract

Background

Recent investigations of white matter (WM) connectivity suggest an important role of the uncinate fasciculus (UF), connecting anterior temporal areas including the amygdala with prefrontal-/orbitofrontal cortices, for anxiety-related processes. Volume of the UF, however, has rarely been investigated, but may be an important measure of structural connectivity underlying limbic neuronal circuits associated with anxiety. Since UF volumetric measures are newly applied measures, it is necessary to cross-validate them using further neural and behavioral indicators of anxiety.

Results

In a group of 32 subjects not reporting any history of psychiatric disorders, we identified a negative correlation between left UF volume and trait anxiety, a finding that is in line with previous results. On the other hand, volume of the left amygdala, which is strongly connected with the UF, was positively correlated with trait anxiety. In addition, volumes of the left UF and left amygdala were inversely associated.

Conclusions

The present study emphasizes the role of the left UF as candidate WM fiber bundle associated with anxiety-related processes and suggests that fiber bundle volume is a WM measure of particular interest. Moreover, these results substantiate the structural relatedness of UF and amygdala by a non-invasive imaging method. The UF-amygdala complex may be pivotal for the control of trait anxiety.

Keywords:
trait anxiety; uncinate fasciculus; amygdala; hippocampus; volume; white matter; grey matter; tractography; diffusion tensor imaging; subcortical segmentation